Cross-cultural study of family influences on executive functions in late childhood, Subset: Experimental data

Ellefson, Michelle (2020). Cross-cultural study of family influences on executive functions in late childhood, Subset: Experimental data. [Data Collection]. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive. 10.5255/UKDA-SN-852658

Recent advances in developmental cognitive neuroscience suggest a link between executive functions (EF) and school achievement. Briefly, executive functions include our ability to reason, plan ahead, multi-task or switch between tasks, sustain attention, delay gratification, and make complex decisions and change dramatically between childhood and adulthood. Children from Asia are widely reported to outperform children from North America Europe on EF tasks, but this evidence is focused almost entirely on young children and largely ignores the question of whether there are cross-cultural differences in EF for older children and adults. This project includes two studies that have been carefully designed to establish the validity, magnitude and universality of any East-West contrast in children’s EF performances. Together, these studies have three key goals: (1) to improve the measurement of children’s EF by developing psychometrically robust, culturally-fair task batteries that are suitable for use across a broad range of ages; (2) to enhance our understanding of putative cultural contrasts by examining links between within-group variation in EF performance and parenting factors and (3) to explore whether the link between EF and academic achievement show cultural universality and the extent that parental factors influence this link.

Data description (abstract)

Although Asian preschoolers acquire executive functions (EFs) earlier than their Western counterparts, little is known about whether this advantage persists into later childhood and adulthood. To address this gap, in the current study we gave four computerized EF tasks (providing measures of inhibition, working memory, cognitive flexibility, and planning) to a large sample (n = 1,427) of 9- to 16-year-olds and their parents. All participants lived in either the United Kingdom or Hong Kong. Our findings highlight the importance of combining developmental and cultural perspectives and show both similarities and contrasts across sites. Specifically, adults’ EF performance did not differ between the two sites; age-related changes in executive function for both the children and the parents appeared to be culturally invariant, as did a modest intergenerational correlation. In contrast, school-age children and young adolescents in Hong Kong outperformed their United Kingdom counterparts on all four EF tasks, a difference consistent with previous findings from preschool children. Only 26 of the 84 variables are included here.

Data creators:
Creator Name Affiliation ORCID (as URL)
Ellefson Michelle University of Cambridge
Sponsors: Economic and Social Research Council
Grant reference: ES/K010255/1
Topic classification: Education
Keywords: children
Project title: Cross-Cultural Study of Family Influences on Executive Functions in Late Childhood
Grant holders: Michelle Ellefson, Claire Hughes, Florrie Ng, Qian Wang
Project dates:
1 November 201330 May 2015
Date published: 24 Mar 2017 16:54
Last modified: 02 Jan 2020 11:01

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